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‘Nigerian apps gaining global traction’

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Robert Giles

Despite the ubiquity of mobile banking applications, customers still encounter challenges in navigating some of the features while others grapple with the problems of PIN theft and unauthorized access. Robert Giles, Head of Transaction Banking, Diamond Bank Plc, spoke to journalists on new initiatives adopted to stem this challenge and the Nigerian IT space. ADEYEMI ADEPETUN was there. Excerpts

FROM your experience in the IT space, how would you rate the Apps market in Nigeria?
Nigerians are fast adopters of technology and the smartphone market is increasing. There are apps for different types of social, religious; information and banking activities and almost all of them are developed in Nigeria for different app stores. It is a market that has great human development potential and there is a desire to increase online content development. The apps are growing; user interface is growing; the youth banking proposition of Diamond Bank is also growing. The app market is growing and getting global attention.

Can you shed more light on the Diamond Mobile App?
A bank is a building where you carry out financial transactions, but doing this in Lagos can be a hassle. The Diamond Mobile App gives customers the opportunity to carry out banking transaction by login in to monitor their account, send money within and out Diamond Bank. It can also be used to pay PHCN bills, buying Internet service bundles; airtime among others. Everything is easy with it. Pleasurable lifestyle features are also on the App like booking a movie ticket and watching movie trailers before purchasing the ticket. Diamond Mobile App gives customers access to all they need to buy without going to the bank to get cash.

The issue about apps revolves around security. How secure are customer transactions?
The App has two layers of security. Unlike cards and cheque books. A phone is something you keep very close to you. People do not forget their phones. The first level of security is the password people put on their phones. Secondly, the App is tied to a single device. At the point of download, authentication information is sent to the customer’s number. The customer has a PIN to make transactions and immediately they log in, they get an e-mail and SMS to show that their account is being accessed on it.

There seems to be low penetration of mobile banking in Nigeria. What do you think is the challenge?
Some of the most recent features on the App address accessibility. It is exciting and more interactive. The bank is investing in awareness. A lot of time is spent in digital business and we are demonstrating how to use the App to customers who come into the bank. The call centre is also educating those who call in.

What are the issues that need to be resolved for mobile banking to be effective?
Internet connection. Wi-Fi connection depends on power. Telecommunications companies should give priority to increasing data penetration. This is to ensure that there is stable data service. Consumer understanding is also key. It is not just about the technology. Customers should know that the platforms are there to protect them. Awareness regarding the security of the system is fundamental. Wide acceptance is important.
How will you described the traffic on the Diamond App so far?                                                                                                                                             The number of transactions runs into millions every week, which is in billions of Naira. The most popular is airtime-vending asides transferring funds between accounts. The penetration rate is increasing. The bank has invested in training people and there is Wi-Fi in all branches for customers to download the app. The App has been repositioned so people can easily use it themselves.

How does the App work and how much bandwidth does a user need to carry out a transaction?
One of the first things you see when you look at the login page is that if the signal is not strong it won’t log the customer in. Transactions get real-time update, whether they are successful or not.

Are you not worried that the number of Nigerians using smartphone is still low?
I am not. There are about 28 per cent of smartphone users in the country. Diamond Bank knows that a lot of its customers have smartphones. A lot of cheaper devices are also coming into the market that will further drive penetration. Currently, the Diamond Mobile App is available on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices, which are very popular.

What happens during transaction error?
Transactions on the mobile app are not supposed to fail. Failed transactions are reversed immediately. The resolution of failure transactions across all channels is the same. Transaction details are also not stored on the phone as the phone is just a window to the bank system.

One of the security features on the Mobile App is the Touch ID. How does it affect user experience?
The Touch ID was integrated in response to users’ requests. People who use Apple devices have been using Touch ID to make purchases on Apple store. It is just a replacement of the PIN. When you are using a PIN there is always the fear of losing it. However, Touch ID eliminates the fear that someone will see your PIN. It is also faster. In essence, it is an additional feature for users.

How is Diamond Mobile App positioned in terms of increasing financial inclusion?
All customers can access the App irrespective of the type of account they run. Financial inclusion is about access to finance. This includes people being able to transact from home regardless of their social status. It is important to talk about our mobile account, Diamond Yello Account, which enables people open bank accounts from their MTN mobile number. The Mobile App is very user-friendly and available to anybody.

What it locally developed?
It was developed in Nigeria by Nigerians for a Nigerian company.

How friendly is the user-interface for older people?
My 60-year-old mother started using a smartphone recently. Since she has access to the Internet she has been able to teach herself quickly. My 3 year-old son uses the music Apps on my phones. There are old people using iPads and tablets. The technology is very intuitive and they are easily adopting it. The Diamond Mobile App is available to everybody irrespective of their age.



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